Wisconsin Innocence Project

Student Opportunities:

“The Wisconsin Innocence Project changes lives and gives hope for those who have been disenfranchised by the system.” - WIP Student 2013-14

The Wisconsin Innocence Project (WIP) seeks to exonerate the innocent, educate students, and reform the criminal justice system by identifying and remedying the causes of wrongful conviction. WIP was founded in 1998 by Professors Keith Findley and John Pray. Since that time students have worked to free over 20 people. 
WIP students work to find the truth and free wrongfully convicted clients after years of unjust incarceration. Through their work with clients, students learn about the operation of the criminal justice system and how our system can sometimes go awry. Students gain insight into how wrongful convictions occur and how they may be prevented.  After completing the year, students are armed with the knowledge and experience of investigating real cases.
In addition to working on client cases, students also take part in a classroom component that complements the case work. In the classroom, students examine problems in the criminal justice system that may contribute to convicting the innocent; the process for investigating a claim of innocence; post-conviction discovery rules; the competing interests of finality and accuracy in criminal litigation; state and federal post-conviction procedures; the nature and uses of DNA and other scientific evidence; and the rules of evidence governing admissibility of such evidence. 
WIP anticipates accepting 18 applicants for the 2015-16 school year. WIP strongly recommends students take Criminal Procedure during the Spring 2015 semester. 

“Working with the Wisconsin Innocence Project is undoubtedly my favorite and most rewarding experience from law school. Knowing that my work directly lead to the reversal of a conviction not only made me proud of my involvement with WIP, but also made me proud to be in this profession. I will carry what I learned at WIP with me for the rest of my life.” 

-WIP Student 2013-14

Student Commitment 

Students must be prepared to commit to a full year of work in the Project. 

  • Summer SessionStudents work full time for 12 weeks in the summer, receiving a stipend for half of their hours, and a total of 7 credits for the other half. Students also received a tuition remission for their summer credits. 
  • Fall SemesterStudents continue in the fall working part-time and enroll in the Wrongful Convictions class.
  • Spring SemesterIn the spring, students enroll for 2-4 credits to continue work. 

The Application Process

The application for the 2015-16 school year will be available November 2nd, 2015. Applications must be submitted by November 25th, 2015 by 11:50 PM. Students must submit the universal application. Students will be asked to rank the law school clinics, including WIP, in order of preference. The Law School and Frank J. Remington Center pages have additional information. 
WIP may contact students for additional materials, such as a writing a statement or solving a problem. 
Students will be notified of decisions on January 29th, 2016 semester.  

"Not only did I get the opportunity to meet and work with real clients, but I also learned skills that will translate well in my future as a legal professional. Being able to review actual cases and then getting the chance to meet the individuals you have just read about is exciting and enlightening." 

- WIP Student 2014-15

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